Melbourne jewellery Susan Cohn opening Joyaviva at RMIT Gallery, Melbourne 9 February 2012
Live jewellery across the Pacific
First of all, I want to apologise. There’s a very good chance this opening talk is going to be full of contradictions …
Life is so strange.
We all become concerned at some stage with our social skills, I can feel totally inept, scared of making a fool of myself. And on those occasions, such as now, depending on what insecurities I am feeling at the time I will call on whatever forces – gods, goddesses, obi-wan Kenobi, Cat woman, tinker bell –– to help me live through the moment.
Here is where the contradiction kicks in.
I don’t believe in the power of outside forces, especially illusionary ones,
I don’t believe in luck or miracles.
Shit just happens.
And yet the contradictions bounce back again.
I do think that people can endow objects with their emotional desires and beliefs, and then use them effectively to reinforce the difficulties they face in their lives. But, to be truthful, I don’t quite understand how this transformation happens, but I have seen it in action.
I am immensely curious, as a jeweller, about how jewellery will talk to,
and for people. I am always attuned to the ways jewellery is lived,
co-opted as part of our daily routines, conversations, displays and transgressions.
We live in a time when societies are designing new languages for living.
I have always believed jewellery to be a dynamic force for survival,
it talks about belonging, it attracts a mate, it is a promise traded through personal exchange, all of which will drive community spirit.
It is through all our experiences that belonging is reinforced,
and it is through belonging that we learn about ourselves.
Contemporary jewellers voice ideas about belonging through the objects they make. These ideas are founded in a shared creative landscape that reaches beyond the group.
In Joyaviva – live jewellery – the focus lies in the power of the jewellery charm. You don’t have to believe that objects are lucky to understand
how a charm can give hope, or power to face reality.
Each of the works in this exhibition responds to a moment in time, and its ongoing story. Jewellers from Australia, New Zealand and Chile
have considered the world around them with its daily challenges, and unexpected catastrophes. Using common everyday features
with readily recognised materials these jewellers are exploring the feelings
associated with wearing jewellery and everyday life, and how the wearing of these jewellery pieces may help us to cope with difficult experiences.
And if we look close enough, they are also offering us an insight into the similarities and differences within cultures, all of which suggests that jewellery may be approaching something like a universal language for belonging.
Joyaviva is a multi-layered exhibition,it is a conversation between makers and wearers and onlookers. Under the expert gaze of Kevin Murray, who carries an ever-lasting passion for the language of contemporary jewellery, this exhibition presents us with the thinking and stories, which inspired the jewellery object. And in addition to this exhibition presentation – which will be travelling in a suitcase to many cities –
there is an interactive website for following stories about the objects, for
participating in the journey of a charm, or to simply contribute to the conversation about what jewellery is.
So I invite you to take a look, and join in.
After all, life is so strange.
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